Summer Travel Map

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life is good, in spite of winter's early arrival

November 28, 2010
Peoria, AZ

The pups had a great check-up at the Vet, Geri's through the next phase of her dental reconstruction (temporary bridge) and tried a new hair place, the Rover's suspension is back in action, and we had a nice Thanksgiving with friends. The past couple of weeks have flown by.

With Geri having a negative reaction to the change in meds, she's been under the weather lately. She's been a trouper, though, working through the situation and getting all the tests the Doctor ordered done. We'll head back on Tuesday to get the results. In the meantime, she's been a little constrained from walking the pups and doing things around the house. Accordingly, we haven't tried to tackle anything major (like painting the master suite, our planned project for this winter).

Speaking of winter, the weather's turned decidedly colder over the past week and a half, with temperatures running 5-10 degrees below normal. It's felt like December-January out there, and that's fine as long as this pattern breaks at some point. It's been nice and sunny, though, so we've continued to enjoy the desert.

I did tackle one issue: fixing a squeaking disc brake pad on the Rover. Once we figured out which wheel position it was (Geri drove slowly while I listened outside), it was a quick process to remove the wheel, pull off the caliper and apply "squeak relief" (actually a high-temperature synthetic lube) to the pins and backs of the pads, and put it all back together. Other than getting brake dust all over, it was a straightforward project.

We've continued to eat well, though. Working off the stock we laid into the freezer when we got back a month ago, and continuing to enjoy the wines we brought back, most evenings have been very enjoyable. I did a Pot Roast in the slow cooker last week that came out pretty tasty (and made enough for two meals), and Geri made a Shrimp Parm that was "to die for". Last night, we put another Pork Loin Roast on the rotisserie and I made a Mushroom Risotto as a side; rich but very good with a Washington Merlot we brought back. I made a Broccoli Gratin one evening and roasted some Brussels Sprouts (my new favorite vegetable after having them in Cleveland). Mmmm.

The next few weeks are looking to be pretty quiet, as we've been keeping the calendar clear since we don't know what the results of Geri's tests will be (edema is usually a symptom of something else, not a syndrome of its own). I'll update the Blog again next week...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogging Hiatus?

November 16, 2010
Peoria, AZ

Well, it certainly seems that way. We've been busy over the last 10 days, just not with things of interest, I suppose. Some "highlights":

On the doctor/dentist front, we're mostly in good shape. The key piece of good news is that Geri's kidney MRI results were fine, showing only normal re-growth at the site of the tumor removal 18 months ago. And we're well on our way to getting her dental bridge reworked after things came loose over the summer, and we've both had our routine cleanings. Her ankle's another story, with the current theory leaning toward peripheral edema as opposed to gout and another series of tests in the works to sort that out. And a prescription change has her feeling under the weather until she acclimates. And the pups head for the vet tomorrow for various shots (they're not looking forward to that).

We've also been working on address changes. No, we're not moving but our mail service in South Dakota is. They've outgrown their leased space in downtown Rapid City and are moving to the 'burbs, right out near the Cabelas and the Flying J. Woo-hoo! Except for us - we have to change data, over time, literally hundreds of places. Now, many of these are online shopping sites and we can make those changes when (if) we ever order again. But, many are tied into online bill payment (change the card's address and the next month's bill might not get paid) and the few magazines we still receive in hardcopy. Add in medical insurers, pensions, Social Security/Medicare, local doctors and dentists, etc. and it's still quite a chore. While we've been stuck in the study, we scanned a few photos, handled Geri's annual IRA distribution and funding my Healthcare Savings Account, and generally did some clean-up on the filing.

I've also spent some time on "fix it" projects, batting .500. I set the over to automatically clean one night and we were awoken with a bang as one of the glass panels in the door shattered. Some quick Googling and searching the next morning brought us new glass several days later and the oven door was soon back in place. Since I couldn't tell from the online diagram which glass to order and the owner's manual was of little help, I ordered two different items and returned the other one today.

The other project was looking into the air suspension on the Rover, which threw a fault. Actually, I think it was self-inflicted since I forgot to turn off our 12 volt cooler one day and drained the battery. Once jumped, the air suspension was inoperable. I did some online research (there are Rover fans all over the world who can help sort out problems) and checked all the fuses and relays, to no avail. Today, I broke down and made an appointment at the Land Rover Centre in Scottsdale for a fix.

Otherwise, we've been eating well (as usual) with some steaks on the barbie, a pot of sauce for pasta and a couple of rotisseries (chicken - take that, Costco!, and a wonderful pork loin last night). We've also done well in attacking the "Wine Box". Some analysis has revealed that we're long in Pinot Noir, so I've been cross-referencing the inventory with vintage and bottling ratings online, and starting to work through the "drink me now" wines. It's tough work, but someone has to do it...

As I think about the Blog, I'll probably strike a balance between Facebook and Blog updates and stick with shorter missives over the winter, with things picking up again as we start to think about next summer's adventures.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Adjusting to life at a different pace

November 6, 2010
Peoria, AZ

Some people change their clocks for Daylight Savings Time twice a year. Since Arizona (most of it, anyway) doesn't observe, we choose to "spring ahead" to travel mode in April and "fall back" to life off the road in October.

And, that's just how we've spent the past week. Don't confuse "fall back" with "slow down".  We were up early on Monday so Geri could go get a blood test that was needed before her Thursday MRI (up even earlier to have her there before 7:00 AM). We'll get the results of the precautionary follow-up MRI next week. If everything remains clear with her kidney after her surgery in April of 2009, she'll be able to go to an annual schedule for further testing. (Fingers crossed).

Tuesday, we made a big shopping run, laying in enough Costco meats to carry us for weeks and filling out the pantry and refrigerator with things for the next few days. It'll be interesting to see how our shopping pattern evolves this year, as we seem to vacillate between buying in bulk and buying fresh, with very different shopping frequencies. I suspect we'll eventually find a happy medium, relying on bulk purchases to keep costs down but mixing in more fresh ingredients based on meal planning via Food Network ("Ooh; that looks good"!).

Wednesday, we were off to the first of several dentist appointments, this one to get started on a new bridge for Geri (the tooth that came loose over the summer is a goner). We'll get most of the medical/dental stuff out of the way over the next couple of weeks, as we usually do quickly upon our return in the fall. Then (hopefully), we'll be good until another round of check-ups in the spring. Even the pups will participate, as there are always shots they need, it seems.

Geri's almost caught up on the laundry, and I spent some time yesterday and today storing and organizing this year's "wine haul" in the various places we stash the juice around here. I also deployed the various yard decorations, and cleaned and filled the water feature in the back yard so we now get serenaded by the gentle splash of water in the evenings. The weather's been generally nice although the temperatures have been a little on the high side (upper-80s and maybe even a low-90) for this time of year. Things are supposed to be back toward "normal" (upper-70s) by next week.

Geri's ankle was better for a while, as elevation and ice packs seemed to help, along with the odd anti-inflammatory and lots of Black Cherry Juice. Unfortunately, yesterday she felt up to walking the pups in the morning and now she's paying the price. We'll need to get that looked at next week as well.

In between, we've been working on address changes. Moving? No, but our mail service in South Dakota is. Do you have any idea how many places have your address? It must be hundreds. Some are even linked: we have to quickly change things we have auto-billed to credit cards after the card's address is changed, or the automatic charge might not work. And we still have pensions and Social Security to do. Most online merchants can wait until the next time we order, if ever. We'll chip away at it in several sessions each week until we get it done.

Since we had such a busy week, we didn't spend a lot of time on the food and wine front. Geri made a fabulous Penne/Chicken/Peas dish with a Pancetta/mascarpone sauce that worked for two meals. I'm amazed that she can pick up on a restaurant meal (this one I had in Calistoga; she only had a taste) and create something just as good - or better. We also filled in with a store-bought rotisserie chicken that's good for two meals. Yesterday, I tried a new recipe: Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage. Geri made her famous Pork Medallions, and dinner was reasonably good. I worked the dough too much, so the gnocchi were a little on the dense side, but the squash flavor came through nicely. It paired nicely with a 2006 California Pinot Noir from the wine box (2006 was a weak vintage, so I'm trying to clear them out first). This morning, I got a rack of Baby Backs in the over to cook low and slow all day. They'll go with fries and baked beans, and it'll be "Margarita Night", so I'm sure there will be a Facebook picture or two...

Oh, and "Happy Birthday" to my brother, Rick!